Rockland hears call for ban on single-use plastic bags

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 5:15pm

ROCKLAND — At its agenda-setting meeting on April 3, the Rockland City Council heard from Lincolnville resident Rob Pfeiffer on curbing the use of plastic both in stores and the working waterfront.

As well, Amelia Magjik, who has announced her candidacy for the vacant Rockland City Council seat, spoke during the public forum portion of the meeting against plastic bags. Magjik said that if Rockland was going to take pride in its seafood, then it has to take pride in stewardship of the shoreline.

One of the more interesting points was her explanation of the life of a plastic bag.

"An average plastic bag lasts for 12 minutes," she said. "You put some stuff in it, you carry it to the car, you carry it from the car, up the stairs home, or whatever. After you've used it for those 12 whole minutes it lives for 1,000 years. For the mathematicians out there this does not make sense."

Mayor Will Clayton began the council’s discussion by clarifying that there was no action item brought forth on the plastic bag issue. It was a discussion item brought forth by Pfeiffer.

"A full on discussion will not happen tonight," he said. "That won't happen until we get all the entities and of course any businesses that may be affected we would want them to be at the same round table."

Pfeiffer began his presentation by including sealed plastics that are used for billets and float docks to the plastic bag issue.

Pfeiffer has presented his plan to Belfast and would being addressing Camden on Tuesday, April 4, and would be addressing Thomaston in the next week.

"There's a whole corridor up Route 1 that needs addressed," he said earlier. "There are a lot of bags going in and out. To do it uniformly seems to be that that would put some muscle behind it."

Councilor Ackor asked if his ban would include all plastic bags, including garbage bags.

“That's another question," Pfeiffer said. "If you go to a store you put your apples in a plastic bag, you put your onions in a plastic bag and put all those in another plastic bag."

Councilor Ed Glaser said addressing garbage bags are worth addressing further down the road.

"It might make it easier for all of the towns if there was a model ordinance that we were all passing that was the same," he said. "Rather then say Rockport placing a 5 cent fee and Camden next door putting a ban on plastic bags. It might be good if we're going to pursue this for the towns themselves to get together."

Pfeiffer said his focus would be on businesses with two percent food sales.

Councilor Valli Geiger said she did not have a problem with banning plastic, but she did have a problem with banning plastic and paper at the same time.

Amy Files from Renew Rockland said she had not looked into the detsils of what's been passed in other towns, but was excited to hear it had been brought to the table.

"Since it's been brought up for discussion I could definitely say that we would volunteer to gather what other towns had put together," she said. "We can compare whether it's a ban or a fee. I think what we would be most interested in is how we can make this work for the community."

Files said that for towns to be in agreement she would want an initial proposal for people to look at and there are plenty of examples out there.

Clayton reiterated that what ever happened he would want the business side represented. He also pointed out that there are only four councilors and that seat would not be filled until June indicating that he would prefer further discussion be put off until then.

Files stated that it would take awhile to put together any information.

No future discussion was mentioned or planned at end of Pfeiffer's presentation.